Debt Centre

Lockdown vs debt repayments

 

The Crises of COVID 19

Today, on the 27th of March 2020, DAY ONE of the enforced Nationwide lockdown in South Africa, Debt Centre would like to ease the uncertainty and stress of our readers and existing clients, with regards to their Debt payments in the aftermath of it all.

We have learned of the first two casualties that was announced on the news earlier, and the increasing number of people that was tested positive, baring the symptoms of the Corona Virus.

The whole nation is in panic with how this pandemic is going to affect their lives and finances. In the past few weeks we all have heard the tragic news of the deaths of thousands of people abroad and how quickly the COVID 19 Virus has spread across the nations.

In South Africa we have a diversity in culture groups with different lifestyles and income, and the announcement by the South African President of the nationwide lock down for at least 21 days, was met with utmost panic and fear. All sectors of all industries are going to bear huge losses of income that will cause severe strain on company budgets, to honour the salary payouts of their employees.

Consumers are confused with the news of the lockdown and the tensions are high because of the uncertainty of job and income losses. Thousands are trying to go back to their countries and homes before it’s too late. Those who could afford it stormed the retail shops with a crazy buying spree, inconsiderately stockpiling on essentials they will need out of fear that the shops will run out of supplies.

As a debt counsellor I have firsthand experience the effects of this pandemic on the business in the workplace. The government has announced some sort of debt relief but for the man in the street it remains uncertain how it will be implemented, the frantic running around to get to all the last minute important arrangements in place, came after the threats from the authorities, of the laws that will be implemented during the total lockdown in the country.

The uncertainty of a job to go back to, or not enough money to buy what they need during lock down, cause more panic and anxiety, as consumers have home loans, vehicle finance, personal loans, credit cards, overdrafts, furniture accounts and micro-lender loan accounts to pay.

How to deal with your creditors

Consumers should contact their creditors and request a payment holiday during this period of uncertainty, not knowing how the next few months will be affecting them. Make sure to ask the following questions:

  1. How will the payment holiday effect the future payments ones the lockdown is lifted, and employers can make normal salary payments to employees?
  2. How will the arrears interest be dealt with from the creditor?
  3. Will the creditor blacklist the client during the payment holiday?
  4. Contact your creditors with regard to credit life insurance that can cover your debt repayments during this time.

Important tip: Get the arrangements in writing from the relevant creditor.

What about Debt Review repayments?

Being in debt review one needs to keep in mind it is a legal process. The consumers in debt review enjoys the protection of the National Credit Act of South Africa.  Hundreds of thousands of cases of consumers in debt review have debt restructuring consent orders granted in the Magistrates Courts of the National Consumer Tribunals. Other consumers have repayment plans in various jurisdictions where their matters are pending at the court and NCT, and some consumers have restructuring payment plans approved by their creditors in place.

It is understandable that consumers will get worried about their debt review commitments due to the challenging salary changes that could affect them due to the Corona Pandemic and the lockdown phase.

Here is what you should do…

  1. Contact your employer requesting a letter to confirm any changes in your salary payments or situation at work.
  2. If you are suspended until the lockdown period has passed, please request these changes in writing immediately.
  3. Keep a record of your salary slips during the lockdown period to proof your income.
  4. If you are receiving UIF pay-outs, please keep the proof of the amount paid to your bank account.
  5. If you have been retrenched, get it on record and keep the documents to submit.
  6. Make contact with your debt counsellor as soon as possible.
  7. Ask your debt counsellor to send a Form 17.3 out to your creditors to state the change of income due to the unforeseen circumstances on record together with the documents to proof it.
  8. In the case of a court order received, do the same with the Form 17.3 but ask your debt counsellor to submit a variation application on your behalf.
  9. Request your creditors for information on your credit life insurance to activate those policies that should cover debt repayments.

Important to remember

We ask that Debt Review consumers should remain calm and know that there are legal processes in place to protect them during the lockdown time, even in the event that it could be extended for a longer period.

What to do if your creditors decline your payment holiday application?

When your creditors decline your request for the payment holiday during the COVID 19 lockdown, and you’re not in a position to pay your accounts which could cause default of credit agreements, and foreclosure and repossession of assets, you should contact a registered debt councillor as soon as possible to help you.

What we at Debt Centre can do for you during this crises time!

Apply for debt review first and protect your assets under the protection of the National Credit Act.

  1. Prevent creditors from proceeding with legal action against you after the lockdown period has passed.
  2. Debt Centre will process the debt review application and notify all your creditors within 24 hours of receiving the signed Form 16 (application form), with all the documents that are required.
  3. Debt Centre will send you an application via a link on your mobile device, no need to find a place where you have to print and scan anymore.
  4. Debt Centre will assist consumers by informing creditors how circumstances have changed.
  5. Debt Centre has a dedicated team of debt counsellors working remotely to assist clients Nationwide that desperately need assistance.
  6. Debt Centre will forward you a receipt of debt review and a welcome letter explaining how the payment plan will work taking into consideration your personal situation.
  7. Debt Centre will ensure that you receive a copy of the letters to all creditors notifying them of your changing circumstances.

Who qualifies for debt review:

  1. Self-employed individuals.
  2. Monthly Salary earners.
  3. Married in community of property couples, even if one of the couples lost their job.
  4. Married out of community with accrual or without couples.
  5. Restaurant and business owners with assets and accounts in their personal name.
  6. Retirement Pension earners.
  7. Farmers with debt in their personal name.
  8. Weekly wage earners.
  9. Consumer that was retrenched due to their company making devastating decisions during the lockdown period, that forces them into liquidation.
  10. Consumers that got suspended due to the lockdown effect by their employers.

Conclusion

Debt Centre understand what consumers are going through during this time. The National Credit Act today is the best protective legislation that consumers can depend on. A way of legal protection of their assets while dealing with the lockdown uncertainty and possible job losses. You have the right to access debt review as a consumer no matter your circumstances or income criteria or amount of money you earn every month. Do not allow this lockdown to ruin your life, because you have accounts to pay and you do not know what the future holds.

Message from the author Annienne Nel

The sudden outbreak of the Corona Virus and the devastating effect it has on our businesses and lives, is nothing short of a disaster. My deepest concern goes out to the independent small entrepreneurs that will not be able to survive and to those who are at loss of goods and income. We should take hands and help each other wherever we can, understand the importance of the threat of this new Virus strain and do whatever we can not to get infected.

I urge all our readers and consumers to stay indoors and adhere to the laws enforced by government during the lockdown period. Debt Centre is there to help with your debt stress, you must keep your family safe as far as possible. Stay healthy, plan ahead with what you’ve got and trust that God is in control. Until next time, take care and God bless.